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Why Am I Not Getting Promoted?


In a previous post, we discussed the performance evaluation, from the perspective of both manager and employee. As an employee, by now you may be frustrated that you are stuck in your role with no upward progression in sight.

During your career, you will move between four distinct stages and at each stage you have an opportunity to make a unique contribution. Many people get trapped in one stage and then wonder why they aren’t progressing to greater responsibilities and promotions. Understanding each stage can shed light on where – and why – you’re stuck.


Stage 1: Dependent. You accept orders from your boss and dutifully deliver. You are task oriented and those tasks are part of a bigger project. You are creative in your task as you learn how things are done in that department.


Stage 2: Independent. Now you are responsible for more defined projects, work more independently, and can deliver results. Your expertise and technical contribution are greater than before and your reputation is building. You have started to build a stronger network of co-workers who help you get things done.


Stage 3: Contributing through others. Your technical skills are more broad and you understand the business as a system, not just your part in the system. Others listen to your ideas, including those whom you mentor. You may now be a team lead or manager, but don’t have to be. Your ideas are appreciated. You can be a spokesperson for your area or group and you represent it well. Your network is strong both internally and externally.


Stage 4: Providing direction to the organization. You have defined and driven critical parts of the business and have learned how to influence, lead change, and use your power in responsible ways. It is easier to get resources because you have a strong network of advocates and those advocates are coaching, mentoring and opening doors for you. You have sponsors now who prepare you for greater leadership roles. Whether a manager or an individual contributor, you can make a real difference in this fourth stage.

The key is to move quickly through the stages. Your boss and advocates will notice your contributions and naturally want to support you. If you are in Stage 4 and not getting promoted, it is time to carefully consider who are your advocates, and whether they are in high enough positions of power to do you any good.

Advocates are critical at every stage of your career. Stay tuned for a future post about how to find advocates.

What stage are you at right now in your organization? What is your way up to the next stage? Please add your comment below, or share with me on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or email.

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